Film Review: The Bourne Legacy

I’ll be honest. In a year of amazingly awesome movies, this was one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. Which is kind of ridiculous since this year also includes The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, Les Miserablesand The Hobbit. It is a GOOD YEAR for movies, folks.

So why was I looking forward to The Bourne Legacy so much? There’s a few reasons.

1) I love The Bourne Identity with great massive chunks of love. I enjoyed the other two as well, but that first one holds a special place in my heart for sheer awesomeness.

2) I also love Jeremy Renner with great massive chunks of love, the kind I do not have for Matt Damon. Don’t get me wrong. Matt Damon is great. I have seen and enjoyed many a Matt Damon movie, and Identity is probably my favorite of his movies. But I love Jeremy Renner more.

So you combine a franchise I love with an actor I love, and you get this movie. Hence my fevered anticipation.

After watching, I have mixed feelings. Many of them are good feelings. But not all. So let’s get into it. I’ll try to be as non-spoilery as I can.

The Plot

The plot for The Bourne Legacy was absurd, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Here it is in a nutshell:

Aaron Cross (Renner) is an agent that has been enhanced, both physically and mentally, by a secret branch of the government known as Outcome. Due to a leaked YouTube video (yes I’m serious), the government decides the only way to cope is to kill everyone associated with Outcome. But, through pure luck, Cross survives the missile intended to kill him. HOWEVER, he runs out of his special performance-enhancing drugs, and without them, he will become too stupid to function. Again, yes, I’m serious.

So Cross goes to kidnap one of the scientists working on Outcome, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), also a survivor of an attempt to wipe out everyone associated with Outcome, because he thinks she may be able to get him more drugs. And then the rest of the movie is Cross and Shearing running from assassins/unfortunate cops and security guards all in a race to get Cross more drugs before he turns stupid, as Edward Norton, a.k.a. Evil Government, tries to find and kill them.

As I said, the plot is absurd. (And as an interesting tidbit, all those parts in the trailer where Ed Norton et al seem to be discussing how Aaron Cross is some sort of stunning new scientific marvel, even more amazing than Bourne? Yeah…they’re pretty much always talking about someone else. Sneaky trailer.)

Oh, and meanwhile, The Bourne Ultimatum is happening. Sometimes the movie reminds us of this. I watched the Bourne trilogy this week in preparation for Legacy, and while it enhanced my understanding of the plot a tiny bit, it probably wasn’t necessary. Most of the Ultimatum tie-in is superfluous, and even though they really try to make it relevant, it doesn’t actually have a ton to do with the get-him-drugs-before-he-turns-stupid-and-they-kill-him plot.

As a side note, since most of The Bourne Ultimatum takes place between the last two scenes of The Bourne Supremacy, we now have three movies covering the same 6-week time frame in this universe. Since they all end around the same time, I’m hoping that if we get another one (oh please oh please), Cross and Bourne can join forces to do…something. The whole movie felt like a setup for that to happen, even though from what I’ve heard, nothing is in the works.

The Acting

The acting in this movie was so good you kind of want to forget that the plot is terrible. Renner is fabulous. They should hire him to make ALL THE ACTION MOVIES. (Oh wait. I think they already did that.) But he’s also good at making you sympathize with him and cheer for him, even when he’s asking EVERYONE where he can get some more not-stupid drugs. He even injects a bit of humor into mostly humorless dialogue.

Weisz is actually more than just a damsel in distress (and I love her leagues more than the snooze-fest of a character that was Nicky Parsons [Julia Stiles]. Someone explain to me why Nicky Parsons was ever a character I was supposed to care about, because I think I missed the memo). She does useful things. She actually saves Aaron once in a crucial moment.

Edward Norton is, as always, spot-on. He does well as the “bad” guy who’s convinced he’s doing the right thing. He almost made me believe that killing important government assets was a reasonable response to a somewhat awkward YouTube video.

I could have used more of Joan Allen and David Strathairn’s characters, who were mostly there just to remind us that Yes! The Bourne Ultimatum is happening RIGHT NOW! Again, if there could be another movie where this story all comes together (the government conspiracy assassin story, not the give-me-drugs-or-give-me-stupid story), I would be a fan of that.

And then we had lots of sinister old men played by awesome actors like Scott Glenn and Albert Finney, who were mostly wasted as they just sat around being sinister and threatening Edward Norton.

The Action

As with all the Bourne films, this one is chock-full of action. Lots of fights, running, chasing, and gunplay. Oh, and there’s one part where he wrestles a wolf. YES. That happens.

I have to admit, out of the four Bourne films, I liked the action in Identity best because you could actually see what was going on. The use of extreme zoom + shaky cam makes it a little hard to follow in the sequels. Plus, it’s hard to top the fight where Bourne stabs the guy with the pen. I mean, it’s a pen.

However, I did think this one did a better job of filming the fights than Supremacy and Ultimatum. In those movies, I had a hard time figuring out who was getting punched in the face. In this one, I could follow the face-punching pretty well. And it was some pretty excellent face-punching.

And it wouldn’t be a Bourne film without a crazy chase scene, although this one is on a motorcycle to prove how hard core Aaron Cross is. Yes, even more hard core than Jason Bourne, as evidenced by the fact that Cross kills a lot more people and sports facial hair and wears sunglasses and goes shirtless for a good portion of the movie.

The motorcycle chase is fun, because high speed chases are awesome. Which is why every Bourne movie has at least one.

The Verdict

Much as I really wanted this one to be my favorite of the Bourne films, it wasn’t. Identity still holds that honor. However, even though the plots for Supremacy and Ultimatum are much tighter and smarter, I think Legacy is my second-favorite on the basis of sheer enjoyability. Yes, the plot is terrible and it is riddled with head-scratching inconsistencies, but honestly, I didn’t care. I loved the characters and the action, enough that I could forgive the plot.

That said, I really hope that if there’s a fifth Bourne film (and again I reiterate, oh please oh please), they put a little more thought into the story and motivations of the characters. Up until this movie, Bourne was one of the smartest action franchises out there, and I’d hate to see the intelligence factor thrown out the window in the hopes that the action will carry it. For this movie, it did, but I’m not sure if that tactic will work more than once.

Grade: B+

The Bourne Legacy is rated PG-13 for violence and action sequences.

Review: Defiance by C.J. Redwine (@cjredwine @harperteen)

I’m so glad I finally get to share this book with you guys. I’ve been sitting on this review for months, itching for time to move faster so that I could gush about just how awesome it is. And the day is finally here! Defiance by C.J. Redwine comes out NEXT WEEK (8/28/12) and trust me, this is one you want to get your hands on as soon as possible.

(Go here if you’d like to read my interview with C.J.!)

The Plot (From Goodreads, because it’s too complex for me to summarize on my own)

“Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.”

My Thoughts

This book had literally everything I love in a story.

The action and adventure was incredible. There were scenes that literally left me gasping and curling into a ball, and that’s not something I typically do while reading. I’m normally a much more…stationary…reader. But the tension in some scenes was nearly palpable, and I couldn’t help myself. I was  invested.

It also was a mishmash of all my favorite genres. There were elements of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, steampunk, romance, and of course, fantasy. And when I say “mishmash,” don’t misunderstand me. I mean it in the best possible way. This book may have a genre identity crisis, but that’s just because it defines its own new genre of pure awesome. So no, I’m not quite sure how to categorize it, and with some books, that would be a problem. Not here. Defiance blends genres seamlessly, and left me hungry for more fantasy-sci-fi-post-apocalyptic-steampunk-romances.

Too bad I don’t know of any.

The characters of Rachel and Logan were strong, personable, flawed, and passionate. They each had their own unique voice, and I loved how the narrative shifted between the two of them. The characters balanced and complemented each other well, and their relationship quickly skyrocketed to the top of my list of favorite YA pairings. I thought their alternating voices kept the story constantly fresh, and I was completely engaged from beginning to end.

The character of the Commander made for a deliciously evil antagonist. The kind you want to slap every time he enters a room, or maybe cower from underneath a table. Just when I thought he couldn’t be more despicable, he was. But he also wasn’t a caricature of a villain. He seemed frighteningly real and terrifying.

And as for the story itself, it was unique, exciting, and thrilling. I wasn’t really shocked by anything that happened, but I also didn’t find it at all formulaic.  There were no twists for the sake of twists, nor were there any payoffs that didn’t feel earned. The story simply unfolded the way it needed to.

Since I don’t want to write a 100% gushy review (much as I may want to), I’ll mention the couple tiny criticisms I had with the book, so you don’t think that C.J. fed me some crazy-making Kool Aid. First, I wasn’t completely in love with the ending. It’s good and exciting, but I like my endings to have more resolution, even if they are part of a trilogy (which this is. Yay!) Would it keep me from recommending the book? Heck no. But I do wish a little more was wrapped up by the end.

And the only other thing — which is so small as to be inconsequential, except that I’m noticing it in a lot of YA fantasy books lately — is the overuse of the word “crimson” in regards to blood. As in, “her hands were stained with crimson.”* This is not unique to Defiance. As I said, I’ve noticed this a lot lately in YA fantasy. A couple times, it works. But after a while, I just kind of want authors to use the word “blood.” Or even “red.”

But as I said, that is a tiny, tiny gripe. Mostly because I feel like I need to gripe about something to keep it real.

Overall, Defiance was a fantastic, exciting read that kept me riveted. It’s unique and special and splendid. One of my absolute favorite books of 2012. If you love a good adventure with magical elements and strong characters, this one is for you.

Content Guide: Contains fantasy violence

*No, that is not an actual quote from the book. It’s just an example of how the word could be used.

Discussion: When a Love Triangle is not really a Love Triangle

Yes. Today I’m going to talk about love triangles. Dun dun DUUUUUN! 

But I’m not going to talk about whether or not love triangles are good or bad (it really depends), or whether or not they’re overused as plot devices (they are). Instead, I’m going to talk a bit about how people are starting to call any story with a romantic [sub]plot and 3 or more featured characters a love triangle, and how I think this is madness.

So, first off, what is a love triangle? I realize there’s a lot of definitions out there, and mine is not necessarily “right.” But since this is my blog, I get to define it today.

[DISCLAIMER: For the purposes of this post, I’m going to use the one-girl-two-guys formula for love triangles, because I don’t feel like saying “him or her” constantly throughout the post. But obviously, these gender roles can be reversed.]

[DISCLAIMER #2: I give some examples below. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list. Just some illustrations.]

“Real” Love Triangle:

In my opinion, a love triangle is a story in which a large portion of the plot centers around reciprocated romantic feelings between a girl and two potential suitors. In a real love triangle, the girl must be romantically attracted to both guys, and must seriously consider each of them as a viable romantic candidate. They must also be romantically interested in her. She can favor one over the other, but she must at least give thoughtful consideration to both. The deliberation must also last for a prolonged period of time, not just for a couple chapters.

Illustrations of “real” love triangles:

Twilight: New Moon*GlitchThe SelectionClarity

NOT a Love Triangle

So what isn’t a love triangle? Oh, so many things. Basically, any story which does not fall into the above classification. But I will break it down.

Example #1

Girl is in a relationship that starts either before or very near the beginning of the book, then realizes she doesn’t actually want to be with that guy. She then moves on to someone else.

They may both be interested in her simultaneously, but she doesn’t spend a lot of time agonizing over which one to choose. There may be a slight amount of overlap, but she mostly moves from one to the other. In this example, the defining characteristic is the fact that she is not interested in/does not seriously consider both guys simultaneously, or at least not for more than a couple chapters.

This is not a triangle. This is a linear progression, and with or without the overlap, it’s how most relationships go. One doesn’t work out. You break up. You move on to someone else.

I think the confusion comes when in books, the moving on happens immediately after the first relationship ends (or even right before it ends), because it would be boring in a book for there to be months of singleness in between relationships. But you have to realize that in the mind of the protagonist, she wasn’t ever simultaneously falling for two guys. She was just moving on.


Before I Fall, Pushing the Limits

Example #2

Two guys are interested in the same girl, but she only ever really considers one of them as a viable option. Again, the other may be given brief consideration, but her feelings toward him are probably not very romantic.

Raise your hand if you have ever been in a relationship, then found out one of your other friends (who you were not interested in) has a crush on you. Did you consider yourself to be in a “love triangle?” Or did you consider your relationship separate from the crush, since you never really considered the friend romantically?


Catching Fire**Everneath, The Princess BrideHourglass

Example #3

Two characters are attracted to each other/in a relationship. There is also a third character present, who shows no romantic feelings toward either of them, and neither of them show romantic feelings toward this character. Yet some readers of the book somehow decide that the third character should be involved romantically, despite the complete lack of romantic context in the book itself.

Again, let me put this in the context of real life. For the purposes of this example, let’s assume you’re a girl (since most of you probably are). And you’re dating a guy. And you also have a friend who’s a guy, but you’ve never been interested in him and he’s never been interested in you. In fact, he’s dating someone else, which you’re totally happy about.

And then some random person who doesn’t know you comes up to you and says, “Hey, I know you’re both dating other people, but I think you would be SO GOOD together, and I think you should give it a try!”

What is your thought process? “Oh heavens! I appear to be in a love triangle!” or “You have no idea what you’re talking about, crazy person.”


…do I actually need to give one? I think we all know what I’m talking about.

How to Spot a Love Triangle:

1. Are there 3 or more main/prominently featured characters who are capable of being attracted to one another?

2. Are two of them romantically interested in the same person?

3. Is that person honestly romantically interested in both of the others?

4. Does this interest prompt a need for that person to make a choice between the other two?

5. Is the choice difficult?

6. Is the decision-making process lengthy, and does it provide a significant conflict for the person making the choice?

If the answer to ALL SIX questions is yes, congratulations! You’ve found a love triangle!

What does it all MEAN?!?!

I think us readers need to take a chill pill when it comes to the whole love triangle thing. Yes, lots of books have love triangles, possibly too many books. Yes, sometimes they’re used as pointless plot devices, and the story could be just as strong, if not stronger, without them (although with real love triangles, many times they actually are central to the plot, because the love triangle is the conflict. Or one of them.)

But a lot of books don’t have love triangles. They have characters who interact with each other, and they have conflict, but the point of the book and the dilemma of the characters is not supposed to be “Who is she going to choooooose?” That’s not what the author intended, and it’s kind of a lousy thing to take away from a story where the focus was supposed to be something else.

I think everyone needs to put down the “Team Whatever” button makers, take a deep breath, and back away slowly.

So what do you think? Do you agree that a true love triangle only exists when the main character is significantly torn between two romantic interests? Do you think that any sort of romantic interest with 3 characters, reciprocated or not, constitutes a love triangle? Do you think that a romance that exists entirely in the heads of the fans, completely outside the context of the book, should still be considered a love triangle? Let me know!

P.S. This is my first pure discussion post. Thinking of doing more of them in the future.

* Yes, Edward definitely has the edge, but Bella spends a good period of time trying to make something work with Jacob, and it is one of the central conflicts of the story.

**I realize that a LOT of people think there is a genuine love triangle in the Hunger Games series, but I maintain that Katniss never really considers one of the contenders romantically. She tries to convince herself to think of him that way, because she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, but that’s about it. If anything, the “triangle” in that book is between Katniss, the guy she eventually ends up with, and being alone.

P.P.S. So far everyone in the comments is behaving themselves admirably, but I just want to ask that no one spoil the end of any of these, or any other, books for anyone. Believe it or not, there are still people out there who haven’t read Hunger Games. Or Harry Potter. *faints*

Feature & Follow (August 17) – Inspiring Blogger

Welcome to the Feature & Follow Hop, hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read!

If you’re here for the first time, I’d love if you could follow via email, RSS, LinkyFollowers or Networked Blogs. Just let me know your follow method of choice in the comments, and I’ll be happy to return the favor.

And if you’re not new, welcome back! Repeat visitors are better than when you wake up and think it’s time to get up, but then look at the clock and realize it’s still the middle of the night.

This week’s question:

What blogger inspires you?

Since it doesn’t have to be a book blog (although don’t get me wrong – I love SO MANY book bloggers), I’m going to pick Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. I’ve read her blog for years, used her Photoshop Actions, cooked tons of her food, and own the cookbook. Oh yeah, and I won an iPad from her.  Seriously.

But the reason I admire her as a blogger is more than just because she holds the best giveaways ever. The giveaways are just icing on the cake of awesome that is Pioneer Woman. Allow me to list the awesome:

1) She’s hilarious and real. Her personality shines through in every one of her posts, be it about food, her kids, cattle ranching, or traveling the country on a book tour.

2) She posts entertaining content every single day.

3) She does this while homeschooling four children. I can’t even begin to imagine the amazing time management skills (which she says she is lacking, but compared to me, I believe this is a fallacy).

4) She’s written two cookbooks, a children’s book, and a book about the love story between her and her husband (which I read back when it was just content on her site, and it is hilarious). Again, I don’t know how she finds the time to write books, but she does.

5) She appears to be an honestly genuine and fun person, the kind I would want to be friends with if I met her in real life. (Which is something I’m still hoping happens someday).

6) She genuinely appreciates her readers, and although she is massively successful, she doesn’t let it go to her head. In all my years of reading her blog, I’ve never heard her say anything that comes across as bragging or entitled or superior. Which is probably one of the reasons she’s so popular.

 I could probably keep going, but surely that’s enough for this post. Who inspires you?

Throwback Thursday (8/16) – Never Let Me Go

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. We hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

You don’t have to be a book blogger to participate! You can put up a Throwback Thursday post on your non-bookish blog; or if you don’t have a blog at all, just use the comments to tell us about a book you remember fondly.

Here’s how it works:
1. Pick any book released more than 5 years ago. Adult, YA, Children’s; doesn’t matter. Any great book will do.
2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it. Make sure to link back to The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books in your post.
3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

Feel free to grab the Throwback Thursday button code from the sidebar to use in your posts.

Thanks for participating, and we look forward to seeing which books you choose to remember!

My Throwback this week is…

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Let me just start by saying this book is not for everyone. It’s tremendously sad. Sad to the point that another blogger I was discussing it with recently (well, the movie version, but still the same story) said she finished with a broken heart wondering, “what’s the point?” And I could totally see how you could come away from this book with that feeling. That said, I think if you go into the book with the right expectations, and you yourself have the “right” personality (for this book, not for…you know…life), it’s strangely beautiful. It’s one of those stories you can’t stop thinking about for a long time afterward.

I first read this book for a bit of a roundabout reason. I had seen the movie The Social Network, and I was totally captivated with Andrew Garfield’s performance. “What else has this kid been in?” I asked myself, and looked him up on IMDb. Lo and behold, he’d been in some artsy movie called Never Let Me Go that was based on a book. “I shall read this book, and then see the movie!” I proclaimed.

Because, as we all know, you always read the book first.

So I did. And then I saw the movie. And they are both haunting and sad and…well…strangely beautiful. (As a side note, while I think the movie is fabulously acted, I don’t think it really holds its own narrative-wise. So I would definitely recommend reading the book before seeing the movie).

Never Let Me Go is the quietest sci-fi dystopian you’ll ever read. So quiet, in fact, you may not notice that you’re reading sci-fi dystopian, because it disguises itself quite effectively as serious contemporary(ish) British literature. It is the story of three friends, Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth, who grow up together in the boarding school of Hailsham. Kathy carries a torch for Tommy from the time they are very young, but it is Tommy and Ruth that pair off through their teen years.

However, after leaving Hailsham and drifting apart, Kathy looks back on her time with Tommy and Ruth and wonders. For students of Hailsham are created for a specific purpose, and once they fulfill that purpose, their lives are complete. As the time for the three friends’ completion grows near, they reunite and examine whether there has been meaning in what they went through, or if they have any reason to hope for the future.

As I said earlier, this book is not for everyone. It’s a dystopian where it never occurs to any of the characters to try to overthrow the system. You want them to fight back, and they don’t, and you get your heart stomped on. Brutally. (I’m doing a great job of selling this book, aren’t I?)

But if you like quiet, difficult, poignant stories with strongly developed characters, this may be one to try. If nothing else, it’ll stick with you for a long time after you finish. And that in itself, even if you hate it, is saying something.

Also, if you like the book and want to see it interpreted visually, I think the movie works well as a companion to it. Here’s the trailer.

Also, I posted this in my most recent Top Ten Tuesday, but I absolutely adore this fan-made video. Perfectly captures the gutting emotion from the movie.

This is a blog hop! Link up your Throwback Thursday post below!